MARION — Daishen Wolaver’s steal with five seconds left sealed a hard-fought come-from-behind 41-38 win for Marion over Carbondale in a South Seven girls basketball battle played at Virgil “Cuss” Wilson Gymnasium on Tuesday.
“I was confident my teammates could handle the situation if I missed, so when she was about to pass the ball, I did everything I could to stop it and was able to tip it and get the ball,” Wolaver said. “We really needed this one. We haven’t done well in the conference, so we really needed this.”
Carbondale (2-13, 0-6 South Seven) shot well from the field in the first half, making 8-of-18 overall and 6-of-10 from beyond the arc to take a three-point lead at the break. In the second half, the Terriers got off to a bad start, hitting just 2-of-10 in the third quarter, and missing on all four of their shots from the outside.
However, it was at the free throw line the Terriers left the winning points, making just 2-of-13 for the night, including 0-for-6 in the first half and 1-of-3 in the final four minutes of the game.
“We miss that many free throws and we don’t rebound, so we’re not going to beat anybody,” said Carbondale coach Marialice Jenkins. “That’s exactly what I told our players. Until they are willing to do the most fundamental things in basketball, which is make free throws and got get rebounds, this is going to be our result. They’re either okay with that or they’ll make some changes. That’s all we talk about.”
After shooting just 6-of-18 in the first half, Marion came alive in the third quarter and the first 2:30 of the fourth quarter, making 10-of-15 from the field to take a five-point lead with 5:23 remaining in the game. McKenzie Orange led the Wildcats with 14 points.
“I’m glad time ran out,” said Marion coach Mike Manfredo. “It was a tough fought game like it always is with Carbondale — big rivalry game. They shot the ball well in the first half, so we made some adjustments at halftime and then opened up a little bit of a lead. We felt we had an advantage inside and were able to get some stickbacks and get them in foul trouble to get their bigs out. Their defense is tough and we just couldn’t pull away, but we did enough to win. You have to win at home and anytime you get a conference win we’ll take it.”
At that point Marion (8-13, 2-4 South Seven) began to run time off the clock, but the Terriers managed to cut into the lead when Akira Custer drew a foul on a layup, but the junior guard made her first foul shot and missed her second to leave the Terriers down by four with 4:03 left.
One minute and 24 seconds later, Hannah Lowndes sank a jumper from the right side of the net to cut the lead two with 2:39 remaining. After Marion turned the ball over with a minute left, Kiara Cobb was fouled, but the sophomore guard missed the front end of her 1-and-1, leaving the Terriers down by two with 48 seconds left.
With 20.5 remaining, Marion turned the ball over again on an errant in-bounds pass from under its own net, opening the door for the Terriers to either tie the game or win it.
After Carbondale took a timeout, the Terriers got the ball down the court looking for a shot, but Wolaver stole the ball and drew a foul with 3.5 seconds left. The junior guard made her first free throw, but missed her second, leaving Carbondale the slimmest of chances to still send the game into overtime.
However, Faith Halliday, who had already made four baskets from beyond the arc, got the ball on the Marion side of mid-court and her shot fell at least 10 feet short of pay dirt.